GellerDesignServices/custom.residential.design  
2002-203 Barrington Manor Drive Raleigh, NC 27612 gellerdesignservices@gmail.com  919.418.1601  
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Frequently Asked Questions
  • Why should I hire a designer?
  • Is there a cost for an initial meeting?
  • How does the design process work for an Addition or a Renovation?
  • How does the design process work for a New Build Home?
  • What are your fees?
  • What part of the work is covered by your retainer?
  • How long does the design and construction drawing process take?

Please see below for the answers to these very important questions:
Why should I hire a designer?
Architects have been educated to think and visualize in 3 dimensions, which
means that we can achieve the most creative use of space. We can come up
with solutions to problems that most builders would not discover on their own.

We will provide you with a complete set of drawings. In so doing, we can
communicate to you exactly what you will be getting with no unpleasant surprises
further down the reoad. YOu will also avoid the costly process of making changes
during the building process because of all the decisions that have already been
discussed and finalized on the drawings.

You will be able to submit the drawings to multiple builders for bidding, which
leads to a lower cost of construction. In many cases the design fees may be
offset by this saving alone.
Is there a cost for an initial
meeting?
No, provided that your property is within 15 miles of our office. If the meeting takes
place further than that distance the charge for a consultation is $60 per hour.
How does the design process work
for an addition or a renovation?
The following is a chronological outline of the design process for an addition or a
renovation:

  1. Determine client requirements - Once we have been selected to be the
    designer for your addition or renovation we will meet with you at length to
    determine your requirements. This includes not only the spatial and
    functional aspects, but the aesthetic ones as well. In other words, we
    need to understand not only how it works and how it will relate to your
    existing home, but also what you would like it to look like. This is probably
    the most important part of the project since it will establish the program
    from which all of the subsequent work will emanate. The program may
    change during the design process, but the basic scope and philosophy
    will be set.
  2. Draw existing conditions - Unless the homeowner already has a set of
    plans for the existing residence (which is rare) the next step of the process
    is to measure and photograph the property. This is done so that we can
    produce drawings of the existing floor plan and elevations (i.e. what it
    looks like from the outside). These drawings are then used as the basis
    from which to begin the design process.
  3. Design floor plans - Working from the drawings produced in Step 2 we
    begin to conceptualize the way the addition/renovation will function in floor
    plan. In some cases the result may be a single solution; in other cases,
    there may be two possible solutions. At this point we return to meet with
    you to determine which solution works best for you; or, if need be, find
    another one which is even better. At any rate, it is not until we have nailed
    down a floor plan that makes sense to you that we proceed to the next
    step.
  4. Design elevations - Once a floor plan has been finalized we continue on to
    determine how the building will look from the outside (the elevations).
    Again, we may arrive at a single design, or we may propose an alternative
    for you to choose from. The important point to make is that we will not be
    finished until you are satisfied with the result.
  5. Produce the construction documents - Once the floor plans and
    elevations have been approved we go on to produce the "working
    drawings", which are the drawings that 1) you will use to solicit bids from
    builders; 2) you will submit to your homeowner's association for approval;
    3) the builder that you have chosen will submit to the local authorities to
    obtain necessary permits; and 4) your builder will actually build from. In
    addition to floor plans and elevations these drawings will normally include
    foundation plans, roof plans, details, specifications, interior elevations and
    building section(s). The beauty of this process is that you now have a set
    of drawings that you can submit to a number of builders to bid on, and they
    will all know exactly what you want. This eliminates the guess work,
    reduces the need for change orders, and will ultimately save you money.
  6. Construction - This phase is handled by your contractor. However, we are
    always available to answer questions or concerns from you or your builder
    at no charge. If so desired, I am available to supervise the construction on
    an hourly basis.
How does the design process
work for a new house?
The following is a chronological outline of the design process for a new house:

  1. Determine your requirements - Once you have chosen us to be the
    designer for your new home we will meet with you at length to determine
    your requirements. Part of this process will be achieved by completing a
    list of questions that I have developed over the years to help me
    understand what you like and/or dislike about your current residence, and
    what you would like to have included in your new home. This is the most
    important step in the process because it results in the actual scope of the
    project both functionally and aesthetically, and it provides the springboard
    for all of our subsequent work. Other topics we will discuss are
    sustainability and energy efficiency, handicap accessibility and  interior air
    quality. We will also talk about square footage and - of course- budget
    constraints.
  2. Site visit - Several visits will be made to the property to determine building
    placement. Location of the home will be determined by topography, solar
    orientation, view, existing vegetation, privacy from neighboring properties
    and accessibility. It is vital to maximize solar heating in the winter and,
    particularly in this climate, to minimize solar heat gain in the summer by
    proper placement of the structure on the site. This will also impact the
    design phase in terms of window placement and overhangs in the quest
    for energy efficiency, as well as interior air quality.
  3. Preliminary design - Concepts for the design will be developed and
    presented for your approval during this phase. We start with the floor plan,
    intending to meet all your requirements. This may take several meetings
    as, together, we tweak the plans to the point that you feel they meet and
    hopefully exceed your expectations. From here we move on to the
    elevations, or what the house will look like on the exterior. We take our
    cues on the aesthetic aspects of your home from your verbal explanations
    and any pictures or magazine articles you have to share that capture your
    imagination. This may range anywhere from traditional to modern, or
    some place in between such as transitional. We don't impose any
    preconceived ideas on you; rather, we take our inspiration from you.
  4. Construction drawings and specifications - Once the preliminary design
    has become the Final Design we begin work on the construction
    documents. These are the drawings and specifications from which your
    contractor will build your new home. But first you will be able to furnish
    multiple builders with these drawings to obtain bids on the work, making it
    a more rational process to select a company to execute the work for you.
    These will also be the documents submited for subdivision approval and
    construction permits.
  5. Construction - This phase is normally taken over by your builder. I am
    always available to answer questions and concerns that you or you
    contractor may have at no charge. Additionally, as an optional service, I
    can act as your on-site representative to oversee the progress and make
    sure things are taking shape according to plan. This supervisory capacity
    is billed on an hourly basis as we make regularly scheduled site visits.
What are your fees?
Every addition/renovation, and every new house, has its own complexities and
challenges, so there is no single answer to your question. After having met with
you to determine the scope of the work we will submit a fee proposal for you to
evaluate.
What part of the work is covered
by your retainer?
The retainer goes toward the design portion of the work, and amounts to one third
of the total fee. The final two thirds of the fee are billed at predetermined points in
the process as spelled out in the fee proposal
.
How long does the design and
construction drawing process take?
That depends on the complexity of the design. For an addition the time frame
could be from 4 weeks to 3 months. For a new home it could take from 3 months
to longer, increasing with the size of the home.
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